January 25, 2005
During a past month when I was in Japan, I was determined to do something other than work that I wouldn't be able to do over here in Hawaii, like seeing friends and eat food that is hard to find over here. While I took in seasonal tastes of Japan, I also treated myself with fancy sweets made by professional patissiers - something that can never, ever be found in this town, or something that I would never, ever be able to make at home, either. And one of the places I knew I was going to, and I actually did, was patisserie Pierre Hermé, a Tokyo outlet of the world-famous celebrity patissier.
Next to their small boutique in hotel New Otani, there was a cafe that serves a selection of entremets of Pierre Hermé, and it was where my friend and I decided to have a cup of tea (and cakes, of course). Among out of all the gorgeous-looking desserts, I managed to choose one called Emotion Galance, a glass of layers of fig compote, mascarpone cheese cream with caramelized cinnamon, and raspberry compote, with a round granola tuille on top, along with a chef-blend herbed green tea called Ceremony.
It tasted just as gorgeous as it looked, but the raspberry compote was a bit too jam-like and too sweet for my taste; I would have liked it better if there had been less of this, while fig compote was just perfect and the whole glass was lovely, anyways.
Apart from it being "limited-edition" spécialité, the main reason why I chose this Emotion Galance - or, to be more specific, the reason I did not choose other ones - was that I had already purchased a box of small cakes to go at the boutique; so I wanted to try something that was not included in the box.
The boutique was truly like a jewelry shop; all the cakes were beautifully displayed (and protected) in glass cases (you can see an image of the shop in the link above). Having fun (or tough) time choosing cakes just enough for three of us at home, I was thrilled when I found a box of tiny versions of their new-comers as well as top-sellers neatly sitting in. This is exactly what I wanted, I gasped; when you can't come back to somewhere like this and yet want to try to as many things as you can at one time, small bites of different things would suit you better than a few large pieces. That's it.
The box, called Fours Frais, had eight small morsels of a size of chocolate truffle. They were all miniature versions of their standard entremets line products, and most of them were designed almost exactly the same as the regular version. Even so, I would imagine that, since they design their cakes so precisely - even down to the ratio of each components (cake, cream, etc.) - that their smaller versions would not taste exactly the same as the regular-sized ones due to inevitable changes in the ratio of each component. But what can I say, in front of such artistic works?
I brought the box back home and shared everything with my sister and her husband. Yes, everything; cut into three thirds, each was small enough for a very young kid to eat in a mouthful. But when you got a box like this, you just have to try all of them - I know I do.
Tarte Azur. Smooth ganache with yuzu citrus and flourless chocolate biscuit in a sable tart shell, topped with soft candied lemon peel, tiny sable cookie piece, and crunchy lime crescent. At Pierre Hermé this winter they seem to feature yuzu in a lot of their seasonal delicacies, and this was one of them. Yuzu wasn't very prominent overall, although there was definitely a hint of tangy citrus in the rich ganache.
Plaisirs sucrés. A Pierre Hermé classic. Hazelnut dacoise, a milk chocolate thin with praline, and chocolate ganache. It incorporated various texture into one piece of cake, in perfect harmony. Sweet pleasure, that is what it was.
Tarte au citron. Lemon tart with a kick for true lemon lovers... such as myself. Vibrant, refreshing, and energizing.
Mont-Blanc aux Marrons. Very classic, standard mont-blanc with meingue and sweet chestnut cream. Pretty sweet, but it was just a small bite so it was okay.
Choux à la crème. Another classic sweet - cream puff, with what I thought was a mixture of custard and chantilly cream, topped with crunchy sugar bits.
Yu. Dacoise with praline, baked apple scented with orange and yuzu, and praline cream cased in thin chocolate wrap. Very pretty looking and actually tasty, but as a miniature, this one had rather too much chocolate that was overpowering other components.
Ispahan. Another Pierre Hermé spécialité. Rose macaron with raspberry, lycee and rose cream (as a small version, the raspberry part might have been raspberry puree rather than fresh berries), with an elegant hat of scarlet rose petal. It smelled lovely, looked stunning, and tasted divine; this was a small but arrestingly gorgeous beauty. That guy truly is a genius.
Hermé Carré Yu. Creme brulee with orange peel filled with baked apple scented with orange and yuzu on sable breton pastry, covered with what I think was a citrus-flavored thin white chocolate. Every part was very, very fragile and hard-to-eat, and had a very delicate taste as well.
All in all, everything was delectable, delightful, and pleasing. It was a hard choice, but when asked which one they liked the best, my sister chose Plaisirs sucrés, while her husband went for Ispahan. Both are highly understandable, considering how successful the two have been in Pierre Hermé shops. As for myself, well, like I just said it was too hard to single out... I really liked the above two, but lemon tart came very close, too. But I think I will have to have them again, in the regular size, to find out the real winner. To tell you the truth though, I really don't need to know which one would be the "best"; I just need an excuse to go back to the boutique and get some more.
At the shop, by the way, I also got a box of their famed macarons, too. They are, of course, already gone for long, but I will come back here with some pictures of them along with my other macaron acquisitions.
posted by chika at: 1/25/2005 11:38:00 PM